How getting the ‘demand side’ right, by empowering community led initiatives, is leading to sustainable management of freshwater in New Zealand
Freshwater resource management in New Zealand is governed by the Resource Management Act (1991). This empowering legislation established the framework for the National Policy Statement on Fresh Water Management (2011), under which lies regional policies and plans, and then resource consents (for particular activities, e.g., hydro dams and irrigation water extraction). Although this framework appears logical, integrated and robust it has resulted in a very unsatisfactory ‘first-in first-served’ system of water resource management, and has resulted in severe degradation to many lowland streams and lakes in terms of water quality and quantity. In response to dissatisfaction amongst almost all parties and in the region with the most potentially irrigable land, the local regional and district councils developed the Canterbury Water Management Strategy 2009 (CWMS). The Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Act, passed by government in 2010, gives statutory weight to the CWMS, requiring that all decisions in respect of water have regard to the vision and principles of that Strategy. The CWMS is being implemented by Canterbury Water, essentially a partnership of the regional council and district councils, but housed in Environment Canterbury. Implementing the strategy involves a complex tiered system of bottom up local ‘collaboratively based’ implementers (largely audited self management groups), 10 local zone committees (each responsible for drafting an integrated ‘zone implementation programme’ – their ‘ZIP’) and a regional committee (responsible for the regional ‘plumbing’ and overall integration – their ‘RIP’); all of this complemented by statutory plans (the rules). In this paper I outline how the ZIP and statutory regional planning process have clashed regarding water quality, and how environmental (including indigenous peoples interests) and development interests have clashed over water storage options – I then analyse how the Zone Committee has attempted to work through the issues in a collaborative way and how this promises to lead to a win for society, a win for the economy, a partial (or ‘not such a big loss’) win for the environment, and a win for cultural interests. In New Zealand we call this the Quadruple Bottom Line. The promise shown by these initiatives has not been without pain but could provide impetus for other similar initiatives in New Zealand and potentially elsewhere.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordswater storage; water management; resource management; water quality; freshwater management; Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS); Resource Management Act 1991; collaborative governance
TypeConference Contribution - Unpublished (Conference Oral Presentation)
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